Trump's statement on abortion, in context
Posted April 29, 2019 4:46 p.m. EDT
CNN — During his rally in Wisconsin Saturday night, Trump attacked the state's Democratic Gov. Tony Evers for stating that he would veto the proposed "born alive" legislation.
"Your Democrat governor here in Wisconsin, shockingly, stated that he will veto legislation that protects Wisconsin babies born alive," Trump said. "The baby is born, the mother meets with the doctor, they take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby."
Facts first: The proposed legislation would require health care professionals to provide life-preserving care to infants born alive after an abortion procedure -- which is very rare -- and make "intentionally causing the death" in such cases a felony.
The proposed legislation in Wisconsin would mandate any health care provider present at an abortion procedure that "results in a child born alive" to "exercise professional skill, care, and diligence" to preserve the baby's life "or to ensure the child is transported and admitted to a hospital." Failure to do so could result in a fine at or below $10,000 and/or six years in prison. The proposed act would also make "intentionally causing the death of a child born alive as a result of an abortion or an attempted abortion a felony with a penalty of life."
Professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco Dr. Daniel Grossman told The New York Times in February that, in very rare cases of an infant being born alive after an attempted abortion, "(i)f it seems unlikely that the baby will survive, the family may choose to provide just comfort care — wrapping and cuddling the baby — and allow the child to die naturally without extreme attempts at resuscitation," the Times paraphrased.
The proposed Wisconsin legislation could, at the very least, penalize failure to provide life-preserving care or failure to immediately take the infant to the hospital with a possible fine, prison time, or both for the health care provider(s) present at the abortion.
It is considered homicide in the US to intentionally kill an infant that is born alive.
In backing up this statement, Trump pointed to Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the comments he made in late January.
"Until this crazy man in Virginia said it, nobody even thought of that, right?" Trump said. "Did anyone even think of that? You hear 'late-term,' but this is where the baby is actually born, it came out, it's there, it's wrapped and that's it. Who believes it?"
In defending proposed state legislation that would relax requirements around third trimester abortions, Northam told the radio station WTOP that in such cases "(t)he infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother."
A spokesperson for Northam said his "comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances (i.e. nonviable pregnancy and severe fetal abnormalities) went into labor."
This clarification, however, does not address the statement made by Northam that "the infant would be delivered."
The act described by Northam is not covered in the now-failed legislation in Virginia that he was addressing. The proposed act in Wisconsin would create penalties for health care providers who do not "exercise professional skill, care, and diligence or to ensure the child is transported and admitted to a hospital." But, again, it is considered homicide to intentionally kill a post-birth baby.
According to the Guttmacher Institute -- an organization focused on sexual and reproductive health -- "slightly more than 1% of abortions are performed at 21 weeks or later." Guttmacher estimates that 926,200 abortions were performed in the US in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available.